Ink Drawing

Ink Drawing

Ink Drawing: Make Your Drawings POP!


Ink drawing is one of the oldest methods of drawing. There are many different types of pens to choose from these days, and each produces a different look. Pen drawings create more of a hard mechanical structured look to your drawings.


Drawing with ink has its challenges.

inkdrawing using pen ink

When using ink, you must make your lines confidently and deliberately.

This does take a level of confidence that most beginners may not have, which can make it a little intimidating. Most ink drawing is used for commercial and advertising as it makes the images “pop” and creates clean, sleek lines. It is also used in comics in which someone’s job is specifically to outline the drawings in ink. They are known as the inker.


Using ink can create depth almost instantly, and there are a few different techniques that you can use depending on what look you are trying to achieve.

Creating tone:

Using an ink wash can be very effective when creating depth and tone in a drawing. Using a water-based ink will allow you to create a wash on the paper such as you would do with water color.


Tip: When doing a wash with any technique where the paper will be saturated with water, you will want to stretch the paper first. Think of it as a preshrunk t-shirt. Once you stretch it, the paper will not shrink any more. To shrink the paper, you saturate the paper first and mount it, allowing it to air dry. This will allow the paper to take the wash more effectively, and you won’t have to worry about the paper changing unexpectedly.


The other method to most effectively create tone with ink is to use hatching and line, as that is the most dominant characteristic of ink drawing. The same techniques apply as when drawing tone with graphite and pencil. You can get more info on shading and creating tone Here


The best part about ink drawing is how versatile it can be.


It doesn’t have to be used only to create rigid lines it can be splattered and scribbled with as well. Ralph Steadman, one of my favorite artists, uses these techniques. His artwork is very wild and borders on insanity at times, but the use of ink in the drawings accentuates his drawings, and he is really able to create a unique style and world that is very distinguishable. He uses a series of washes as well as free-flowing scribble line and splatter.


His technique is a widely used technique called splatter technique, but he has really taken ownership of this style, which makes everyone else’s look like a knockoff. He incorporates almost all the different techniques of ink: washes and hatching along with scribble. His pieces are the best examples of the versatility of ink that I know of, and I think most would agree.

drawing-ink-outline drawing faces portraits

If you have never used ink to define/outline your drawings, you will be amazed how much you can improve and add to a drawing that you thought was already good.


Tip: Just think of your initial pencil drawing as just that, a template for your image, a rough sketch that will be cleaned up. It can help you redefine lines and refine the drawing. It also helps you be confident with your marks. You will be amazed at the results that you get.


Drawing with ink can be a very fun process, especially the splatter technique. The real question you need to ask is what method, technique, and tools do you feel most conformable with. Budget is always a factor as well (at least in my book). You can pick up a relatively cheap set of art pens from any hobby shop or art store. They may seem overpriced if you are used to buying those Bic or Papermate pens for class or work, but when you use them you will understand and see the difference.


I personally use technical pens, which have a hard, clean, mechanical look. They are easy to start using if you are not used to using ink and are less maintenance as well. There are also the dipping pens or fountain pens that will allow you to create those cool spatter techniques, but they take more technique to learn initially and require more of an investment in inks and different nibs/tips for the pens.

The best way to know any tools as always is to test them out for yourself.


Someone can write about the different ones all day, but until you see for yourself, you will not know which is right for you. Ink drawing is something I have incorporated into my style and will continue to do so. It adds a certain amount of solidity and authority to your drawings that a regular pencil sketch just can’t compare with. It is bolder and can add life to any drawing.

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